Re: [OPE-L] Marx on the 'maximum rate of profit'

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Nov 07 2006 - 08:36:07 EST


It pretty much comes down to this: do you want to (i) calculate actual
labour-values based on the current state of the economy, or (ii)
calculate counterfactual labour-values based on an economy that lacks
capitalist consumption, or in some way changes capitalist consumption
from its current level?

If your goal is (i) then I recommend we use real-costs labour-values.
You won't have a transformation problem.

But there is no transformation problem in the real world.

I just posted Dave Zs paper which shows that there is no
real transformation problem in the 18 leading capitalist economies.


But if your goal is (ii) then don't expect your labour-value
accounting to match your price accounting (especially if you follow
Sraffa and count profit-income as a nominal cost of production that
gets reflected in unit prices, but do not count the labour-embodied in
capitalist consumption goods as a real cost of production that gets
reflected in unit labour values). You will have a transformation

My point of view is this: capitalist consumption is a real cost,
regardless of whether that consumption is subsistence, luxury or both.
Certainly capitalists don't need big homes, yachts and helicopters to
keep pumping out profit-income. But they do consume such things, and
labour is expended to produce them. So I'd like to know how much
labour-time is required to produce unit commodities from scratch given
the current state of the economy. Therefore I need to also count the
labour-time required to produce capitalist consumption during the
period of replacement. If I don't do this, I'm calculating
labour-values for another, different economy, in which capitalists
abstain from consumption.

Obviously you are right when you say that labour has to be expended
in producing capitalist consumption goods. Marx's reproduction schemes
show this in department 3. It has already been accounted for there.
Looked at another way this labour is indirectly represented in the
surplus hours worked by workers in sectors 1 and 2. I don't see what
advantages your accounting scheme has over that used in Capital II.

The danger of your approach is that 

1. It makes capitalist consumption appear necessary.
2. It is redundant given the theory of surplus labour.

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